Hanging by a thread
Exploring the world in miniature.

It’s not how far you walk that matters. It’s what you see on the journey, what you absorb, and what lifts your spirits that has real meaning…

One evening in May, after a full day at the word processor, I had need of a walk. I needed fresh air and exercise, needed to smell the dew-dampening grass and to hear the birds’ anthems at dusk. I needed to be Out There, for Out There is where I belong.

It only takes five minutes to walk to the first meadow, with its view north to a line of greensand hills on whose slopes I lived for more than 40 years. Five minutes, that’s all it takes, and four of those five minutes are along a farm lane flanked by trees and bushes, in springtime bursting with new growth full of colour, fragrance and sound.

Below the farm I crossed a stream and traced the edge of a second meadow, veering towards a half-hidden pond to study the hawthorn blossom and inhale its musky fragrance. The meadow is lined on three sides with graceful oak trees all of a similar age, and every leaf that evening was an identical colour and hue, by contrast with a couple of weeks earlier when each tree seemed to have reached a different stage of development.

From a lofty branch on one of those trees a blackbird sounded the ‘chip-chip-chip’ call that tells of the day ebbing away – the feathered watchman warning of night’s approach by stealth.

It was then that I saw a caterpillar – no more than a centimetre in length, it was – and it appeared to be hovering in the air at eye-level. Hovering? Surely not! It had to be suspended by a microscopically thin line of gossamer, so thin it was invisible to the human eye.

I studied it from all angles, moving slowly around the tiny creature, making a full circle in an attempt to find a natural source of light that would expose the thread holding it there, but failed.

Read on.

By Kev Reynolds – guidebook author for Cicerone.

Illustrations by Clare Crooke, designer at Cicerone.

About Kev

A lifelong passion for the countryside in general, and mountains in particular, drives Kev's desire to share his sense of wonder and delight in the natural world through his writing, photography and lecturing.

Claiming to be ‘The Man with the World's Best Job’, he has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Cicerone since the 1970s, producing over 50 books, including guides to five major trekking regions of Nepal, and to numerous routes in the European Alps and Pyrenees, as well as walking guides for Kent, Sussex and the Cotswolds. His collection of autobiographical short stories, A Walk in the Clouds, is a record of 50 years of mountain travel and adventures, while Abode of the Gods tells of eight of his many trekking expeditions in the Himalaya.

Kev is an honorary life member of the Outdoor Writers’ and Photographers’ Guild, and an honorary member of both SELVA (the Société d’Etudes de la Littérature de Voyage Anglophone), and the British Association of International Mountain Leaders (BAIML).

When not away in the mountains, Kev lives with his wife in view of what he calls 'the Kentish Alps', with unrestricted walking country on his doorstep. But he also travels throughout Britain and abroad during the winter months to share his love of the places he writes about through a series of lectures.